Home Foraging | Civil Eats

Home Foraging


The great stakes and pains of planting our mini farm does not escape one day in our minds. Gigantic effort, sweat, sometimes some tears, all to ensure the bounty we see rolling in like tidal waves at this height of the season. Far from unappreciated, the bags of tomatillos, buckets of pears and plums, and fat bunches of basil bombard our tiny kitchen that has recently been cut in half in the midst of home construction. Every spare minute is now spent canning, pickling, seed sorting, drying, and pretty much always eating, just to make sure nothing goes to waste. The ironic thing about some of the products rolling in and out of our kitchen is that we never lifted a finger in their creation. Amazingly, a large portion of these preserving projects I find myself immersed in has a foraged subject. Mysterious appearances of wild edibles are being recreated into highly enjoyable farm goods and menu items here at the homestead. I will share a few with you.

Asian Purslane Salad

This is a two birds with one stone kind of dish. While weeding our peppers, we just pluck a few handfuls of purslane and throw them together for dinner. It is also extremely high in Omega’s.

2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small squirt of Sriracha, or hot pepper flakes to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (optional to thicken)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 bunches Purslane, trimmed into 2 inch segments

In the bottom of a large salad bowl, combine the mustard, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Add the soy sauce then the sesame oil. While mixing, drizzle in the olive oil if desired to thicken the dressing. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the Purslane and toss then serve.

Wild Blackberry Jam

About four different varieties of blackberry vines, no, I should say walls, surround the edges of our property. We have made tunnels and paths to pluck as many as possible and keep the excess (what can’t be made into pies or jam on the spot) in the freezer for a spontaneous winter berry treat. These wild strains are muskier, tart, and tend to have more seeds.

6 cups wild blackberries
6 cups sugar
Juice of one large lemon

In a large, heavy bottom pot, place de-stemmed and rinsed berries. Crush if desired. Add the sugar and cook over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and bring to a rolling boil until the jam is thick and reaches the gelling point. Pack into hot, sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes or simply store in the refrigerator.

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Note: Read about canning to thoroughly educate yourself about preserving food.

Loquat Leaf Tea

Asian cultures have attributed Loquat Leaf tea to having a large amount of health benefits, including blood sugar regulation. Our loquat tree generally went unnoticed aside from random snacking on its fleeting fruit in passing. Now, we harvest the leaves, dry them on the clothesline until brittle, and snip them into thin strips. Brew like any other loose-leaf tea. Makes a delicious, tropical flavored iced tea as well.

Comfrey Limeade

1 Large bunch comfrey
1 Half gallon limeade, homemade or store bought
Water to taste

Thoroughly wash comfrey and remove stems and other fibrous material. Tear into small pieces and place in blender, adding limeade gradually with motor running until almost gone. Pour puree through strainer to remove pulp. Add water to dilute if too sweet, then chill.

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Amber Turpin is a freelance food and travel writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A long time Good Food advocate, she has owned, operated and helped launch several food businesses. She is a regular contributor to Civil Eats, various Edible magazines, and the San Jose Mercury News. Read more >

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  1. Foraging is a nice addition to the homegrown stuff. Near us we have wild mustard and several other herbs.

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